These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
I. THEIR DIFFERENCE.
1. One is the fountain; the other is the stream. All the joy of the disciples sprang from his. Apart from his joy there would be none for them. Although there is an inseparable connection between the fountain and the stream, between the cause and effect, between the sun and its light and heat, between the joy of Jesus and that of his disciples, yet there is a distinction, and such a one that the fountain will ever be a fountain, and the stream will ever be a stream. The joy of Jesus will ever be his own, and that of the disciples will ever be theirs as the stream from the fountain of joy.
2. One is independent; the other is not. The joy of Jesus, which was specially his own, was independent of that of his disciples; but theirs was dependent on his, as the stream is dependent on the fountain, and the branches on the vine. The sun would be a sun if all the planets were blotted out and all the stars fell. So much cannot be said of the planets and stars if the sun were extinguished. Jesus had a joy which was absolutely his own. As he had a glory with the Father before the world began, so he had joy which he could not but experience apart from human consequences and relationships. But the disciples had no such joy; theirs was dependent on, as it was derived from, his.
3. One is infinitely capacious; the other is not. It is finite. Jesus' joy, like himself, was infinite. No vessel can hold more than its fill. Thus the joys of men differ in degree according to their different capacities. The Divinity of Christ, the greatness and vastness of his work, the glory and dignity of his Person, and the perfection of his character, made him capable of infinite and boundless joy, compared with which the greatest joy of the most perfect disciple would be but a drop to the ocean, a ray to the sun, and an atom to the universe.
4. One is ever full; the other is not. The joy of Jesus was absolutely full and complete - a continual flow with- out an ebb. True, he was "a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." But this was not his own. "Surely he bore our griefs," etc. His soul was continually joyous, and his nature continually happy. And now, when his earthly work was not actually completed, with the terrible battle and more than human pain before him, his soul was full of joy. The sorrow and grief were only waves on the surface, and dashing on the human side of his being; but down in the depths of his nature there was only joy in all its serenity, purity, and fullness. But not so the joy of the disciples. It was essentially incomplete. Only a spark, a flickering flame, already threatened with extinction by his departure.
II. THEIR SAMENESS. Although distinct, so as to be spoken of separately as "my joy" and "your joy," yet there is a similarity and a sameness.
1. They are the same in nature. The stream is of the same nature as the fountain, the drop as the ocean, the fruit as the tree. The joy of the disciples is of the same nature as that of Jesus.
2. They are the same in effect. Joy as an emotion is, pleasant, buoyant, happy, and inspiring. These were its effects in Jesus, and in a degree in his disciples. In the degree they experienced it, it made them happy in trouble, hopeful in sorrow, buoyant in depressed circumstances, and joyous even in tribulation. Pure joy is the same in its effects in the heart of the creature as in that of the Creator, in the heart of the disciple as in that of his Master.
3. They are the same in their sources. What were the sources of Jesus' joy, or what joy was his?
(1) The joy of conscious union with his Father. He was ever conscious of this. It never left him, even in the darkest hour and severest trials. "Ye shall leave me alone: but I am not alone, because the Father," etc. This ever filled him with confidence and joy.
(2) The joy of perfect obedience. Obedience to his Father's will and commands, loyalty to his Father's throne, and consecration to his Father's work.
(3) The joy of perfect love. Love to his Father, to his disciples, and love of compassion to the world. The central passion of his heart and the ruling law of his nature was love, and this inevitably produced joy and happiness. His obedience was happy and joyous. It was the obedience of love. He could say, "Lo, I come to do," etc. It was delightful to come and do the Divine will while the law was in his heart of love. There is no joy without love; and in the degree we love we are joyous.
(4) The joy of perfect self-sacrifice. The love of Christ was not of the ordinary kind, but of the highest kind - the greatest and most disinterested, resulting in the greatest self-sacrifice. And the greater the self-sacrifice the greater the joy. In Christ both were perfect.
(5) The joy of unswerving confidence of triumph and success. He never had the least doubt as to the ultimate success of his mission and the result of his coming, although no one was ever so severely tried. His own rejected and crucified him; but, in spite of this, his joy was unruffled, his happiness was unmarred, and his confidence in God, and the justice and success of his cause, was unshaken. These were the sources of his joy; and they are the sources of the joy of all his followers - the joy of union with him and the Father, of obedience to him and his commands, of love to him and each other, of self-sacrifice even to suffering and death for him, and of perfect conviction of the righteousness of their cause, the rectitude of their principles, and complete triumph at last. Thus the joy of the disciples and that of the Master proceeded from the same fountain. Although one is a small stream and the other a sweeping Amazon, yet they spring from the same sources, and flow on through parallel channels to the same ocean of infinite joy.
III. THE PERFECTION OF THE DISCIPLES' JOY.
1. The perfection of their joy was not yet attained. This could not be expected. They were young disciples, ignorant and imperfect. Their training was as yet only partial, and there were intervening severe trials. Their Master was about to leave them by death; and their permanent Teacher and Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit, had not yet fully come. Between his departure and the coming of the Spirit there was sadness. They were doubtless greatly surprised at his speaking of his joy and theirs at such an hour; still they had the elements of spiritual joy to an extent they had not yet realized. The development of these was necessarily gradual, and as yet incomplete.
2. The perfection of their joy was attainable. "That my joy may be in you, and that," etc. This was to be attained:
(1) By continual realization of their union with him. This union was made. It was a glorious fact. They had only to continue it and realize it in a greater degree. And with increased realization of the union there would be an increase of joy - the joy of being connected with a Divine life, the joy of infinite care and support. Christ rejoiced at his union with the disciples, and they ought to rejoice at theirs with him. If it was a source of joy to the Bridegroom to be united with a poor bride, certainly it ought to be a greater source of joy to the bride to be united with such an infinitely rich and kind Bridegroom.
(2) By continual participation of his joy. "That my joy may be in you;" not about or near, but in them as a perennial well of living water. His joy was full and perfect, and it was ever at their disposal; and they are invited to partake of it, as the branches partake of the life and sap of the vine. And his words and promise are as telegraphic wires to convey the messages of his love to the soul; as golden pipes to convey the wine of his life, joy, and fellowship to the heart. Joy was in him in inexhaustible fullness. And his disciples are to be filled with joy by continual participation of his fullness, and the more they take the more they will get.
(3) By careful imitation of his example. "That my joy may be in you, and that your joy," etc. In him they found an Example which was most perfect, helpful, and inspiring. In one sense his joy in relation to believers is a specimen, and a most efficient help to procure the same themselves. He helps them that they may help themselves, and make their own spiritual fortunes. He pointed out to his disciples the founts of happiness, and revealed to them by precept and example the path of duty as the only path of real joy. Let them tread it as he trod it. Let them abide in him as he abode in his Father. Let them obey as he obeyed, love as he loved, self-sacrifice as he self-sacrificed; then his joy would be in them, and theirs would be fulfilled in him and in themselves. His joy would be theirs, and still his own; his own, and still practically theirs. The joy of the Master is fulfilled in that of the disciple, and that of the disciple in the Master.
3. The perfection of joy, although partially attained now, is fully attained in the future. Christians of all ages have experienced this joy in a high degree; and even the sorrowful disciples, a short time after this, left the Sanhedrin with bleeding flesh, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ's Name. They sang in prisons, and even in the most painful death. But this joy cannot reach perfection here, for its perfection wilt be the perfection of religion, and the crown of life, which cannot be fully attained but under heavenly and fixed conditions; when the union between Christ and the believing soul will be complete; when the tortuous stream shall at last reach the ocean, and the joyous disciple shall enter into the joy of his Lord.
4. The perfection of their joy now was Jesus chief concern. "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy," etc. lie was specially anxious, not merely that they should enjoy him, but that they should enjoy him in the highest sense, in the fullest measure, and in the most inspiring, cheering, and effective way. "That my joy may be in you." He does not bequeath unto them sorrow. He takes that upon himself, and gives them his joy. He makes an exchange - gives his disciples his joy, and bears their grief. They have the advantage. All he said and did was that they may realize his happiness, and make it practically their own, and fulfill it in their own experience, even to perfection.
1. There is no pure and lasting joy apart from Jesus. Every other joy is false, empty, and transient, unworthy of man as an immortal being, and will end in sorrow. In union with him alone there is real joy.
2. The religion of Jesus is a religion of pure joy. To charge it with being melancholy is utterly false. The religion of man is a melancholy one, but that of Jesus is ever joyous. The new birth is a circumstance of joy. The marriage of the soul to the merciful Savior is a source of ecstatic delight. Its sorrow is only accidental and for a season, its joy is essential and eternal. And there is joy even in its sorrow, songs in its sighs, and heaven in its tears. If it begins in a sigh, it ends in an eternal song.
3. Let us make our life joyous by a living union with the ever-joyous Savior. Let us abide in his love, appropriate his joy; then duty will be delightful, and life ever musical, and will naturally melt at last to that fullness of joy which is at his right hand, and the everlasting pleasures of his presence. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
WEB: I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full.